be.gin.ner (noun) – a person who is new to or inexperienced in a certain task, situation.
It’s been a long time since I let myself be a beginner at anything. Don’t get me wrong. I love trying new things: traveling to new places, learning new skills, taking on new challenges. Beginnings make me feel energized, hopeful, alive. However, being a beginner — new to or inexperienced at anything — makes me a bit (by which I mean, very) uncomfortable. And this has certainly been the case with both photography and blogging.
I’ve been thinking about starting a photoblog for a while now. Well, wait. Let me start at the beginning. For the past year, I’ve been trying to create balance in my life by intentionally finding time each day to work, play, and rest. One of the ways I created time for play was by enrolling in a 9-week photography class. In the course, we completed a series of technical exercises (e.g., hyperfocal focus, shallow depth of field), in which we shot the equivalent of a roll of film (all of us were using digital SLRs) — 36 photos — each week. We then printed our photos with no corrections and presented our 8 “best” to the class. The photography class was a lot of things — it was a great place to connect with a photography community in Lincoln, it was an excellent resource for learning how to use my new Canon EOS Rebel t2i, and it helped me to begin to figure out what my own unique photo style might be. But, more than anything…it was just plain FUN! I loved taking, printing, and sharing my pictures.
When I asked, what next? My soul whispered…hmm…a photoblog might be kind of fun. I’ve found that if I even take a small step toward creativity — acknowledging a small creative dream, for example — the universe often responds with a little prompting of its own. In this case, my creative sister-in-law, Brady Gervais, writer, runner, and non-profit extraordinaire, mentioned in passing that maybe I should start a Photoblog. My spirit entertained the possibility for about 2 seconds, but then my beginner’s doubts crept in.
You are not a good enough. No one’s going to want to look at your photographs or read your thoughts about photography, my inner perfectionist said.
You don’t have enough time to start a blog, (especially if you want to get tenure), my inner workaholic chimed in.
Anything you create won’t be original — there are other people in your life who have been doing this a lot longer. There’s no room for another photographer and if you try, you’re going to look like a fool, my impatient social comparison fiend added.
Yet, I wondered, what if. What if I embrace my beginner’s status? What if everything didn’t have to be perfect? What if I committed only small chunks of time each day? What if I could connect with other like-minded people at all stages of their creative journey and we could help each other?
I keep coming back to the fact that taking and sharing my pictures makes me more mindful. When I’m taking pictures, I’m in the moment. I’m not thinking of the dishes that need to be done or the manuscript that needs to be submitted. It gives me perspective. Most of my favorite photos are of ordinary objects that picture an extraordinary meaning to me because of their fresh perspectives. Finally, I’m finding creative communion, by sharing my photography and creativity with fellow creative spirits.
So, where do we go from here? I will be sharing one of my photographs each day and one longer blog post each week. Most of the photos will be new (i.e., taken that day), but I will also revisit some older ones because, as my photographer teachers says, sometimes you need to sit with a photograph for a while as it reveals its many layers. Most importantly, I will be embracing my beginner status. I’m giving myself permission to be a beginner in every regard — I don’t have to have it all figured out yet, I will make mistakes (probably some big ones), I can try new things simply because it sounds like a little fun. I already see curves in the road ahead, but I’m going to focus on each step, each moment, each day and have faith that the path will be presented to me.